If you’ve read my weekly Tuesday lists, you’ll know that I am a big advocate for using writing to acknowledge and celebrate what’s going on my world. Last week I used a similar approach to tackling a feeling of flatness and general life dissatisfaction. Instead of writing about external elements, as I do on Tuesdays, I sat and wrote down all the ways that I'm a more connected, more resilient, gentler and generally more likeable person than I was a year ago. I did this because I believe, as Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner declares, that “if you can write, you can change your life”.
At the end of this experience, I felt like my compass had returned to true north. Like I had twisted the end of a kaleidoscope (kids, ask your parents) and was suddenly dazzled by captivating colours and patterns. Colours and patterns which had, of course, been there all along. But I had not seen them because I was too preoccupied by the darkness. I was looking at the hole instead of the doughnut.Even if your washing hamper is overflowing and your fridge contains only expired mustard and a mutated chilli*, you have much to be proud of. You are doing better at life than you realise. You are succeeding in ways that you likely do not recognise. You are learning more about yourself and your place in the world. You are contributing to the lives of strangers and acquaintances in ways that you will never fully understand. You are making choices to expand yourself and your world, and, ideally, learning from them. You are caring for yourself and the people around you – and this is no small thing. This is the biggest thing of all. This is what we are here to do.
Writing is how we can bear witness to that growth and also account for the actions that might be taking us far away from the people we want to grow into. It’s through the act of recording our experiences that we recognise that at any given moment, there is always more right than there is wrong. It’s how we hit the pause button on a world that seems to spin faster every year. It’s how we celebrate all that we are and all that we have. It’s how we can make the little moments count.
In a letter to her younger self, Cheryl Strayed – aka my spirit animal – writes: “The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.”
And it’s through writing that the becoming comes to light.
If you feel lost, putting pen to paper, or fingertips to keyboard, can help you find your way home. This blog does that for me. I have to be totally honest with you at this juncture: this blog is not always a joy. It steals sleep and leisure time from me, and it yields precious little in terms of bankable business. BUT the act of diarising my attempt to find meaning in my life has resulted in me discovering that meaning, every day, in ways big and small. By translating my observations and disparate thoughts into tangible and (hopefully) fluid articles, I am living more consciously and less on autopilot. Writing can do that. I highly recommend it.